Citizens' Issues
How Not To Fall Victim to Cyber Fraud
There is no escape from cyberspace and risks associated with it. Therefore, we need strategies to minimise our risks, says Dr Anupam Saraph
 
Who is the custodian of your digital assets? Do you have a strategy to de-risk and protect yourself from the modern messiahs promising the wonders of the digital age? Is it really worth the risk to have your smartphone run your life? These were some of the questions raised, and answered, by Dr Anupam Saraph at a seminar organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai on “Don’t Become a Victim of Cyber Fraud: Protect Yourself Now”.
 
Dr Saraph, former IT advisor to the chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, and former CIO of Pune city, said one needs to understand the risks associated with transactions in cyberspace, implications of data leaks and privacy breaches through social media or email transactions and the remedies.
 
“There is no escape from the cyberspace and risks associated with it. Therefore, we need to have a strategy to minimise our risks. This includes, protection from obsolescence, protection from unfair practices, protecting identity and digital assets,” he said. He urged people to think for themselves, rather than offering them ready solutions. 
 
“Today every transaction is technology-to-technology without any interaction with humans; so it lacks the trust factor. Even in the digital era, it is important to develop trust with the people behind the technology. Remember, you are there to interact with people and not machines,” said Dr Saraph. He also explained terms such as net-neutrality, privacy policies, laws relating to terms of use and the need for ‘audit-ability’ of data and systems. For many in the audience this was their first exposure to these concepts. 
 
Talking about net-neutrality, he said, when the net-neutrality was threatened in the United States, president Barack Obama himself took a stand and did all he could to ensure that net-neutrality was not compromised. Net-neutrality allows fair, just, unrestricted and non-monopolised access to the Internet; access is agnostic to the media and content consumed by its customers across the network. Explaining why net-neutrality is worth fighting for, he said that it will force all other entities, services and publications, which were not part of the select ‘free’ access sites, to pay to be on the free Internet platform. 
 
Making representations of ‘free’ or ‘zero’ Internet plans, when providing a bouquet of websites, are unfair trade practice. Providing a few websites while creating misleading representations of providing Internet access, or about the utility of the free plans, is also an unfair trade practice. Ultimately, this will limit the unlimited access to the worldwide web that we enjoy today or increase costs dramatically.
 
Talking about privacy policy and other legal terms of use, he said, there needs to be a right to opt out and the user should be able to prevent sharing her data with third parties. Dr Saraph said, “Users need to be provided with the right to be forgotten besides policies to safeguard them from unauthorised access.” 
 
“The systems or websites should have audit-ability, which will have ability to track back a transaction to a person. This will also ensure transacting parties does not deny transaction,” he added.
 
Dr Saraph, who had worked with Malcolm Slesser, et al, in Edinburgh in the late-1990s to develop the ECCO (Evolution, Complexity and Cognition) modelling paradigm for assessing the economic and energy potential of nations and regions, said, “To protect yourself from obsolescence, you need to use open source formats to store digital assets, upgrade back-ups to current media and avoid using digital platforms that evolve fast.”
 
“Protection from unfair practices can be achieved by choosing to opt out of sharing data whenever possible, and avoiding digital platforms that lack privacy protection and have unfair terms of use,” he added.  One safety mechanism was to have multiple IDs and not link multiple important databases to a single ID. He also told people that it was best to avoid digital platforms that lack privacy and have no human help and, most importantly, use a two-step authentication, whenever possible.
 
Cyber-crime and privacy breach in India has been growing exponentially. Dr Saraph concluded with the advice: “In this scenario, remember your identity, assets and existence are at stake and you only are responsible for your security. So, the next time you are online, be vigilant and try to minimise your risks.”
 
ECCO: Evolution, Complexity and Cognition
 
The Supreme Court of India, in response to a clutch of public interest petitions, has made it clear, for the sixth time, that the Aadhaar number cannot be made mandatory by the government for any benefits or services; it is voluntary. 
 
Answering queries on the issue, Dr Saraph clarified that Aadhaar is just a number which has not been verified and authenticated by any government authority. He said, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had disclosed this in response to Right to Information (RTI) queries. Unfortunately, several government departments are violating the Supreme Court’s orders and making it mandatory. Asked what could be done in such cases, Dr Saraph’s suggestion was that people should lodge grievance on the government complaints portal at this link http://www.pgportal.gov.in/GrievanceNew.aspx
 
With the Aadhaar numbers being widely copied and distributed across the country, there is no way to tell where your Aadhaar number was used by whom through what API (application programme interface), exposing your digital assets to the possibility of being completely siphoned off. Like most of us, the government neither knows nor has an inventory of its digital assets. Certifying or appostiling digital assets are unheard of. 
 
Whether it is survey of maps of India, passports, birth certificates—or even Aadhaar numbers—the government knows no way to certify, verify and audit its digital assets, he said.

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Premji arm invests in Hygienic Research Institute
 Wipro czar Azim Premji has invested Rs.216 crore in a leading consumer care firm through his family investment arm Premji Invest.
 
"We have raised Rs.216 crore from Premji Invest. The fresh capital will spur us to grow into a Rs.1,000-crore company in five years from Rs.350 crore last fiscal," the Mumbai-based Hygienic Research Institute (HRI) Ltd said in a statement on Monday.
 
The company, however, did not share details of how many equity shares were allotted to Premji Invest, at what price and premium, if any, charged or the share-holding pattern post this round of investment.
 
Candle Partners, Mumbai-based investment bankers and Alvarez & Marsal India were transaction advisors to Premji Invest.
 
"Premji's investment will create stakeholder value and enable us to unlock our brands' true potential," Hygienic chief executive Manish Chhabra said in the statement from Mumbai.
 
With 1.5-lakh retail outlets, 1,000 trade outlets and 15,000 salons across the country, the 65-year-old fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company makes and markets hair colour, hair care and skin care products in powder, creams and henna formats to consumers through its brands,
 
"We are at an inflection point in our growth journey, as we are widening our footprint, commercialising new products and deepening franchise," said Chhabra.
 
Billionaire Premji had hived off his global software services from consumer care business, which sells soaps and shampoos and personal care products.
 
"Partnership with Premji Invest will help us to hone our capabilities through strategic investments in automation of factories, upgradation of IT systems and thrust on research and development," Chhabra added.
 
Hygienic has also presence in Bangladesh and Nepal and its products are exported to about 20 countries.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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